Letter from the editor

I always thought I was well educated on the needs of people with disabilities. Yes, the public needs to watch their language, notice where they are parking, and treat them with respect.

But after working at Disability Action Center NW for several years now, that understanding has deepened. What it has shown me that I will NEVER truly understand what a person with a disability faces without having one myself.

Every day on the job I learn something. My tolerance is challenged daily, not by people with disabilities, but by the stupid way other people treat them!

So when the movie “Me Before You” came out, I was right there ready to insist it be boycotted, that the message it was sending was appalling.

But I didn’t really understand. A meaningful discussion was held during one of our staff meetings. I was made aware that many people with a disability, who use a chair for example, have an “escape plan” for when the situation becomes intolerable. And no one has a right to tell them when that is. As my dear friend put it “No one wants to be tortured to death”. Those words had a profound effect on me. And again I realized just how little I understood.

How a person responds to their disability is an incredibly personal thing. I can’t tell them what they should do. I can just offer support and understanding when they need it.

However, Hollywood does tend to, generalize people with disabilities into two categories. One that is “how can they possibly want to live that way” and the other is “what an inspiration that person is to the rest of us”. Neither is how an individual with a disability wants to be portrayed. They are just the same as everyone else, and by that I mean unique. They deserve to be listened to, included, challenged, and accepted, warts and all, just like I want to be. Turns out that’s not all that different 😉